ST. CATHARINES, Ont. - Two people crawled out of a passenger window while four others were rescued by their fast-moving driver after a stretch limousine burst into flames on the QEW Tuesday night.
“It could have been a very tragic situation if it wasn’t for the quick-thinking of the people out there,” said Staff Sgt. Jan Idzenga, of the Niagara detachment of the Ontario Provincial Police.
Idzenga said the limo was taking a family of six from the Buffalo airport home to Niagara-on-the-Lake. While travelling north on the QEW near Thorold Stone Rd. around 10:30 p.m., the driver noticed smoke pouring into the his compartment. He quickly pulled over as the whole car filled with smoke and lost power.
Idzenga said the driver reached through an open window to open a passenger door and four people bailed out. Two others escaped out of a window on the other side of the car.
Niagara Falls fire department arrived to see flames in the passenger windows on both sides of the vehicle and all occupants out. Capt. Bruce Green said firefighters broke a couple of windows to get to the fire and applied water. It was under control in minutes.
A representative at Lakeside Limousine in Welland confirmed it was their company’s vehicle but were unable to comment about the incident Wednesday.
OPP are investigating the cause of the fire and are having the limousine tested. The 28-foot stretch Lincoln limo was manufactured by Crystal Coach in California.
The OPP are particularly interested to discover if a mechanical failure was to blame, after a bride and four friends were killed in a limo fire in California earlier this year.
Last week, Reuters reported a failed suspension system sparked the California limousine fire that killed 31-year-old bride Neriza Fojas and four of her friends going to a wedding celebration in May. The five passengers died of smoke inhalation while four other women escaped by climbing through an opening that separated passengers from the limo driver compartment.
It’s been a rough few weeks for limousines on the QEW. On Aug. 16, the rear wheel of a pickup truck came off, flew across the median and hit a Niagara-bound limousine on the highway near Jordan Rd. The tire missed the windows, hitting the front grill instead, and the limo driver and occupants were unharmed.